March Among the Driest and Coldest in Recent Years

May 10, 2013

10 May (THE WEATHER CHANNEL) – In March 2013, below-normal temperatures dominated in a swath from the Northern Plains to the Southeast.  Temperatures, however, were generally at or above normal across the Southwest as well as in New England. 

March 2013 was also the driest March in 47 years and the coldest since 2002, according to a report released Monday by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), an arm of the federal government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  And for a few states, this March achieved the rare feat of being colder overall than January.

The monthly report showed that for the contiguous 48 states as a whole, March’s average temperature was 0.9 degree cooler than the 20th-century average, making it the 43rd-coolest of the past 119 years (1895 to present), placing it within the middle one-third of all Marches temperaturewise.  In simplified terms, the NCDC calculates these average temperatures by averaging the high and low temperatures across a large number of observation sites across the country. In the case of March, the readings for all 31 days of the month are taken and averaged together.  However, the national average masks strong regional patterns.


A cluster of states in the southeast quadrant of the country had a top-ten coldest March on record this year, led by Florida and South Carolina (fifth-coldest on record).  Not only was the Southeast chilly in March, but in a remarkably rare turn of events, five states were actually colder in March 2013 than in January 2013, the reverse of the usual pattern.

Meanwhile, it was a relatively toasty March in the West, where California had its ninth-warmest March on record and neighboring Nevada and Arizona each placed 10th among their respective March temperature histories.  The stronger-than-usual chill also had trouble getting into New England, where the three northern New England states — Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine — all logged March temperatures in the upper third of their respective historical records, though not in the top ten.

For complete story and interact maps go to The Weather Channel.